We’re getting used to the modern reality that a number on a Mercedes-Benz’s decklid no longer bears any relation to the car’s engine displacement or, well, much of anything at all. Consider , which adopts S450 and S560 badges to denote its base 3.0-liter six-cylinder and up-market 4.0-liter eight-cylinder models. Continuing this trend, Benz has assigned S560e nomenclature to its replacement for the equally nonsensically named . As before, the PHEV S-class mates a 3.0-liter V-6 engine to an electric motor and a battery, only now it gains the same updates that apply to the rest of the 2018 S-class lineup.
Naming liberties aside, the S560e represents an appropriate step forward for the electrified S-class. As before, the V-6 is twin-turbocharged, yet this time around it boasts 362 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque compared to 329 ponies and 354 lb-ft. The transmission has been upgraded from seven forward gears to nine, and the electric motor embedded in it gains seven horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque for new totals of 121 horses and 325 lb-ft. Mercedes hasn’t revealed the total system power this generates, but we suspect it’ll eclipse the old S550e’s 436 horsepower and 479 lb-ft of torque.
The new battery is about the same size as before, but it packs 13.5 kWh of capacity where the old model had only 8.7 kWh. This, along with the relocation of the power electronics to the engine bay, opens up some of the cargo space previously lost to both. As is in vogue among today’s German plug-in hybrids with an eye on the China market, the S560e now can travel 31 miles (50 kilometers) on electricity alone before the engine kicks on and assists. (That distance qualifies plug-ins for a fuel-economy credit in China.) Mercedes has fitted the big hybrid with a haptic accelerator pedal that can give the driver variable resistance to alert him or her to the outer bounds of the electric motor’s operation before the gas engine will fire up. It also can pulse to suggest drivers lift off the accelerator to initiate energy recuperation while coasting.
How does the Benz know to nag the driver to lift off the gas? The S560e factors in the battery’s charge level, approaching speed limits or interchanges, and traffic scenarios to determine whether the powertrain should free-wheel sans any engine-braking effect from the electric motor’s energy recuperation or recharge the battery using the electric motor. Besides using the haptic pedal, the S560e also will serve the driver these suggestions (along with explanations such as “junction ahead” or “gradient ahead”) as messages delivered via the instrument panel or optional head-up display. Another nifty feature is the ability to precondition the Benz’s interior using the electrically driven A/C compressor and heater to fire up the heated armrests, seats, and steering wheel. We’ll receive more details as we approach the S560e’s on-sale date in the United States, which is mid-2019, according to the company.